All Government Employees Pay Less Taxes Than Donald Trump

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Notice: The author believes that taxation is theft. The following is hypothetical based on the commonly-held viewpoint that government provides a positive service for society.

Much to do has been made over the recent revelation that Donald Trump hasn’t paid income taxes in a very long time. The orange man-thing touts it as a “genius” move to avoid paying the taxes necessary to finance the plethora of government programs he himself endorses, while his detractors call him an unpatriotic tax cheat. Bernie Sanders wisely pointed out that if everyone paid as much in taxes as Trump there would be no country… which is absolutely correct, if “country” means “slush fund for Sanders to buy another lake house (or “democratic lake house,” whatever).” Yes, the quick to criticize Bernie has paid far, far less taxes than Trump. Negative taxes, in fact.
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Cancerville, D.C.

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Washington, D.C. is booming. And that’s a problem.

America is still sick. Its economy, and indeed that of the world, struggles on in a sorry state of disrepair. The much-awaited recovery is finally here, and it’s nothing to get excited about. Frustrated millenials have even taken to cracking jokes about how easy it was for their parents’ generation to secure a stable financial future. The whole country is still feeling the pain.

Except for Washington. For the District of Columbia, things are going just fine.

Stroll the streets of the nation’s capital city and you will be greeted by the busy clamor of construction. Visit its bars and restaurants and you will find them packed and thriving. Wherever you go, you will be hit by an undeniable reality: things are going great here. Make no mistake, in the midst of a miserable economy Washington, D.C. is a boom town. And there’s something deeply wrong with that. [Read more…]

Coercive Compassion

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Some would legislate compassion. Some would use the government to achieve charitable ends. Some would attempt to do good through the heavy hand of state authority. They believe that society can benefit the most through using coercive means, rather than by voluntary action.

They are wrong. Those who would use the brute force of the government to achieve their sense of morality are acting neither effectively nor morally.

In his article for The Freeman titled The Clenched Fist and the General Welfare, Gary Galles nicely dispels the fallacy that coercive action is efficient in promoting the general welfare of society. Galles equates government action to a clenched fist, a blunt tool effective at crushing and destroying, but not much else. This ability can be useful in areas such as preventing and punishing violence, theft, fraud, and other forms of aggression and harm, but would prove significantly less than ideal when applied to a role such as charity and economic stability. According to Galles, such a tool may benefit society only so long as it is relegated to functions which take full advantage of its destructive nature. Otherwise, if inappropriately used for other ends, the governmental fist causes more harm than good.

Using force and coercion for society’s benefit is, indeed, inefficient, as Galles noted. However, using violent, non-voluntary means to achieve compassionate ends is more than inefficient. It is blatantly immoral.

Before going any further, we must acknowledge one simple, ugly fact: every law is supported by a death threat. Even the most basic, seemingly innocuous piece of legislation meant to benefit the poor, if resisted, carries with it a potential termination order. In order to pay Paul, Peter must be taxed. If Peter refuses to pay, he is fined, and his assets may be confiscated. If he refuses to surrender his assets, agents are sent to procure them by force. If he resists, he may be imprisoned. If he resists imprisonment, he will be met with physical violence, and if he manages to maintain his resistance he will surely die.

This harsh reality of using coercive methods can only mean that government action is inherently immoral when used for any purpose other than preventing violence. If using the law for an aim means a willingness to kill to achieve said aim, the threat presented must be greater than or equal to killing; otherwise, such an action is immoral, even murderous. Therefore, while analyzing the inherent clumsiness and inefficiency of government action is a noble and important effort, it falls short. We must come to terms with the moral reality of the situation as well. We must face the truth that using murder and death to achieve goals of mere societal welfare is evil.

Using coercion to enact compassionate measures is more than inefficient. It is a contradiction in terms. It is nothing short of brutality. We would do well to keep this in mind before using government force to achieve societal goals, lest the blood of innocents stain our hands.

Photo credit: Riley Kaminer

Pyramid of the Oppressor

Try this: open up a business, and then proceed to shoot your customers.

Okay, how did it turn out? No, I don’t mean the fact that you’re probably now in jail awaiting trial for murder. I’m talking about your business. What happened to your revenue? Did business absolutely take off? No? Awww… how come?

Maybe because you rely on your customers for your own survival. They pay your bills. It is only through serving them and keeping them as customers that you can succeed. It’s a total no-brainer.

If only dictators could see that…

In some ways the relationship between a dictator and his subjects and a business owner and her customers aren’t the same. For example, citizens don’t have the choice of leaving the service of their oppressor. But the correlation is true in this sense: both the political leader and the entrepreneur need the financial support of the people to survive.

Squashing your subjects just doesn’t make sense. The worse off they are, the worse off you are by proxy. Why do you think abusive dictatorships are never as prosperous as democracies, even though the tyrant takes a larger percentage of what the people earn? Destroy enough of your poor citizens and you won’t even be able to survive.

But it can get even worse. Irk your subjects enough, and they can rise up and kill you. No matter how strong your military or your control over the people, you will always lose if they rise up against you. That’s because every victory you secure only makes your financial base weaker. No matter how mighty your military, they produce nothing by themselves, and can only be paid and supported by the very people you’re employing them to squash. Your only hope is to stamp out a rebellion so quickly and so mercilessly that the people are too terrified to continue. But if they aren’t, then it’s as good as over.

A better strategy? Treat your subjects well. The happier and wealthier they get under your watch, the more likely they are to see you as benevolent, and support you completely. It’s better to reign in Heaven than reign brutally in Hell…

We Break You, You Pay For It

Does it make sense to spend money to harm yourself?  Not at all. We work hard all week long to spend money on good things, like food, shelter, and the occasional pair of leopard-print pants. But do you spend money on harming yourself? Unfortunately, yes.

I’m not talking about that box of donuts you finished all by yourself yesterday. At least you got plenty of sugary satisfaction out of that, and only later did the regret set in. I’m talking about actual, direct, intentional harm to your property, your person, and your freedom. How can this be? Like most of the world’s greatest problems and injustices, this one can be explained in one word: government.

Who supports the government? All of us. Every action they take is only possible by our financial support. This really shows the seriousness of public policy, and puts democracy in a whole new light. Your government enacting policies contrary to your beliefs isn’t just a matter of not getting your way, it’s a matter of being forced to aid and support activities you find morally reprehensible. This gets even worse when your personal safety and well-being are being targeted by goons whose paychecks you are currently paying.

Do you smoke weed? Too bad for you. There’s a government agency of over 10,000 members out specifically to get you, funded directly by you. Did your parents bring you from another country the wrong way? No, it doesn’t matter if all you remember is this country. Doesn’t matter that you got good grades in school, never hurt anyone, worked hard, and in every way have been a productive, model citizen. There’s an army of almost 60,000 trying to hunt you down, and you’re contributing to their salaries. The disheartening list goes on.

At the root of all things, we use government to take care of things like national defense and rule of law. Forcing people to pay for this isn’t so egregious, since the protection of rights and property is such a basic and universally-needed service, and citizens unwilling to participate even in that low of a form of government can move away, if a more favorable situation is available elsewhere. The big problem with trying to have a government do more than the pure basics is that the people are increasingly forced to spend their livelihoods on things they don’t value, transforming their role from that of an employer of the government to that of a victim. Eventually, the citizen becomes a slave, and taxation ceases to be a contractual contribution and becomes full-on extortion.

Being robbed is no fun. But even worse is buying your own proverbial coffin. Paying protection money is bad enough, but paying the thug to actually break your kneecaps? Is there anything worse than that?